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How to Not Use 1 Timothy 4:12

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Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

 1 Timothy 4:12

I have grown up my whole life in ministry. From the time I was born, I was visiting prisoners in jail, giving food to the poor, and telling others about Jesus. Sometimes I feel like Bane in Batman. As he was forged by the dark pit I was forged under my father and mother’s passion for serving Jesus. I have served in every ministry thanks to godly parents.

For my whole life in ministry up until now (the ripe age of 23) I still hear 1 Timothy 4:12 thrown at often. It is a great and very encouraging Bible verse. However, I often see this verse abused by well-meaning people. Pastors justify putting young men into pastoral positions prematurely. Young men with pompous attitudes throw it around whenever someone tries to rebuke their behavior. Older men stay out of ministry in the name of letting “this generation” take the reins.

I’ve had enough of this nonsense. 

When we look at the text we see Paul encourage Timothy to not allow prejudice toward his age hinders his ministry. This is a statement all involved in ministry need to heed. However, his exhortation is met by the charge to set forth an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

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Here are my challenges, young men:

  • Are you truly being an example in your speech?
  • Is your lifestyle filled with God when you’re serving the Lord but then emptied of godliness at your job?
  • Are you preaching the gospel faithfully but then subjecting yourself to online erotica in the darkness?

Older men, I have questions for you too:

  • Are you faithfully exhorting the younger men like Paul is to Timothy?
  • Are you training them to be an example in their love?
  • Are you showing them how to walk in the Spirit?
  • Are you holding them accountable?

Next time you try to throw this verse out to justify your behavior, first examine yourself. You don’t have to be perfect in these areas, but you must strive. The believer in Christ must desire to be holy. Young men, you must take direction from others on how to be such an example. Older men, you must also give instruction — which means you need to also be an example of holiness in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.

Don’t ever let your age stop you from serving Christ, but be Holy as He is Holy and be humble.

Grace and Peace.


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